CAREER OF MOHAMED AT MECCA 7 was the local representative of the Emperor who signed the document. In Chapter XL. reference has been made to the in- vasion and occupation of the Yemen by the Abyssinians, whose capital at that period was Axum, near the Red Sea littoral In A.D. 570, the year of the Prophet's birth, Abraha,1 the capable Abyssinian Viceroy, marched on Mecca, ostensibly to avenge an insult offered to the church at Sana, but probably intending to destroy the Kaaba from political motives. Brushing aside all oppo- sition, he reached Tayif, three stages east of the Sacred City. Thence he despatched raiding parties which cap- tured, among other live stock, two hundred camels belonging to Abdul Muttalib. Following with his main body, which included that portentous monster an elephant, he halted outside Mecca and sent envoys to inform the panic-stricken Arabs that he had no desire to injure them but was determined to destroy the Kaaba. Abdul Muttalib proceeded to the camp of the enemy to treat with Abraha, who restored his camels but would not be turned from his purpose. The legend runs that Abdul Muttalib would only ask for his camels, and in reply to a contemptuous remark from Abraha retorted that the Kaaba., Deeded no human defender. On the fateful day the elephant refused to advance, and the failure of the expedition is commemorated in the following verses from the Koran : c< Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the army of the Elephant ? Did he not cause their stratagem to miscarry ? And he sent against them flocks of little birds which cast upon them small clay stones, and made them like unto the stubble of which the cattle have eaten." The passage is a glorified description of an epidemic of small-pox—also termed " small stones " in Arabic—which is historical. The Abyssinian army retreated, and Abraha died at Sana of the foul disease. The news that the Kaaba had been protected by divine intervention must have spread far and wid<£, and greatly enhanced both the sanctity of the Shrine and the prestige of the Kureish. 1 Abraha is the Abyssinian form of Ibrahim or Abraham.